Red Quinoa and Roasted Acorn Squash Salad

Red Quinoa and Acorn Squash Salad Autumn is my favorite time of the year.  Although I no longer get to enjoy the beauty of the changing leaves here in San Diego, I still get to enjoy new fall fashions and seasonal ingredients.  Around this time of the year, I usually trade in my whites, linens and shorts for darker neutrals, tweeds, leather and denim.  What intrigues me the most about fall fashion is the wide variety of prints and textures (great for layering).  In regard to autumn produce, I just love squash, figs, apples, pears, onions and sweet potatoes (I could go on and on here, but I’ll stop).  This Red Quinoa Salad with Roasted Acorn Squash features two of my seasonal favorites – squash and red onions.  Topped with a pistachio arugula dressing, this salad is healthy, hearty and deliciously complex.

Acorn Squash Red Quinoa and Roasted Acorn Squash Salad
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks.

For the salad:

1 acorn squash
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the onions
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
12 red torpedo onions, peeled (you could also use small shallots or red onions)
2 cups cooked red quinoa* (you could also use white quinoa)
1 cup arugula

For the Pistachio Arugula dressing:

⅓ cup shelled pistachios
⅓ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons warm water
½ cup arugula

Red Quinoa and Acorn Squash Salad Preheat oven to 375°F.

Slice the acorn squash in half from top to bottom and scoop out the seeds.  Cut the squash halves into ½ inch wide half moons and place in a medium bowl.  Toss the half moons with the maple syrup, olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes, a pinch of kosher salt and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper.  Spread the slices out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and set aside.

Toss the torpedo onions with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of kosher salt and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper.  Spread out on a separate baking sheet.  Roast both the squash and the onions for 45 minutes or until the squash turn golden brown and the onions are soft and caramelized.  Once the squash slices are cool enough to handle, peel the skins off.

While the squash and onions are roasting, assemble the dressing.  In a blender or food processor, puree the pistachios, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and honey until creamy.  If the dressing seems to thick, you can thin it out with a tablespoon or two of warm water.  Pulse in the ½ cup arugula (don’t over pulse though – you want to see visible bits of arugula in the dressing).  Season with additional kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

In a large bowl, gently toss the red quinoa, 1 cup of arugula and roasted torpedo onions.  Divide the quinoa salad amongst six small plates.  Top each serving with several slices of roasted acorn squash and a drizzle of pistachio arugula dressing.

Makes 6 servings.

* To cook red quinoa:  Rinse 1 cup of of red quinoa thoroughly.  In a medium sauce pan, bring 2 cups of chicken stock (or water) to a boil with 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 teaspoon of gray salt (or kosher salt).  Add the rinsed quinoa and return to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for approximately 20 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and all of the liquid is absorbed.


  1. says

    Oh wow, this looks incredible. I’ve recently discovered quinoa and am loving it, so I may have to recreate this salad at home.

    Beautiful photos, too!

    Jax x

  2. SO YUM says

    Brandon, Everything you touch looks so amazing and makes me instantly hungry. I might actually make it to the grocery store this weekend to try some cooking. Keep the inspiration coming.

  3. Brandon Matzek says

    @Jackie I love quinoa!! Costco carries the white variety in a huge quantity and I recently discovered that Trader Joe’s sells a small box of red quinoa! I prepare quinoa at least once a week at my house.

    @Laura The torpedo onions are definitely a farmer’s market find. If you can’t find torpedo onions, you could use small shallots or red onions. You could also use larger red onions cut into quarters! I have heard about black quinoa; however, I’ve never tried it. I heard that its texture is different than it’s white and red counterparts. Please let me know if you try it!

    @SO YUM Thanks!! Get over to that grocery store 😉

  4. says

    I haven’t tried quinoa yet, but I’m going to Trader Joe’s soon. I already have an acorn squash.
    What a lovely fall dish with many of the flavors of Fall. did Trader Joe’s have the figas too?

  5. says

    Acorn squash and quinoa are two of my favorite foods, and this is an absolutely brilliant idea! Once it cools down enough to turn on an oven (I’m up in LA), I’m making this.

  6. says

    I agree with you. Fall is the best season and living on the east coast, it is a magical time when the leaves turn and you need a little extra blanket to keep you warm at night. This salad is LOADED with flavors and acorn squash is my favorite fruit/vegetable/squash. I like the addition of pistachio in the dressing. Nice crunch.

  7. Brandon Matzek says

    @Cathy B You can certainly use regular (white) quinoa for this dish.

    @Becky Trader Joe’s should still have figs. Costo also sells a 2 pound tray of beautiful figs (so cheap!).

    @Lynn @ Priscilla Yeah, it topped out at 105 degrees here yesterday. I wasn’t roasting anything either! Maybe give it a try in a few weeks?

  8. says

    What a great looking salad. Not only does it look lovely but I love the flavor combinations, I bet the peppery arugula pairs nicely with the sweetness of the squash, this one is a keeper!

  9. Brandon Matzek says

    @Mike This works just as well with regular (white) quinoa. Simply substitute in 2 cups of cooked regular quinoa for the red quinoa. Thanks!


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